"Living Feng Shui" magazine
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Feng Shui: It’s a Different Kind of Energy Crisis
By Betsy Rothstein
Want to get a new job or improve your love life? Before heading to the local palm reader, headhunter or darkened bar, you may want to consider removing the sha-chi (otherwise known as negative karmic energy) from your life.
Sounds a little hokey — yes. But from the placement of your garbage can, the direction of your desk, to the shapes, pictures and colors you actively settle into your surroundings, you could be making poignant statements about every aspect of your life.
Feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”): It’s a New Age psychic energy treatment for the home that is cropping up in cities nationwide that has left clients energized by its benefits or overwhelmed by the changes they are encouraged to make.
For Carol Olmstead, a Bethesda, Md.-based feng shui consultant with a clientele in Washington, her greatest disappointment is the moment she leaves a client’s home knowing full well that he or she is too frightened to make the changes.
She explains: “Feng shui is all about energy. Chi energy makes us feel very uncomfortable in some places and very comfortable in others. That’s the chi — that’s the energy — arranging things so that the energy flows harmoniously.”
Take the young woman who wanted a love life but wouldn’t remove the mounds of pillows and teddy bears she had piled high on her spacious queen-size bed.
“What’s not rewarding is leaving and knowing they’re not going to do it, that they’re not ready,” said Olmstead, who strongly suspected the young woman was not going to follow her suggestions and had symbolically buried herself in so deep that she could not allow a romance into her life.
“I find people have to accept, they have to want to make changes in their lives.”
Olmstead often encourages her clients to practice the “Three R’s.” In other words, repair, remove or replace.
And she has seen significant changes in her own life by applying feng shui principles. For instance, she had a picture on her wall given to her by a friend with whom the relationship had gone sour. She took the picture down, and within days her business was booming.
Olmstead has also seen benefits for her clients, which she says occur between two weeks and 30 days after the changes are made. In one instance, a young man wanted a romantic relationship. “So we took some of the crap out,” said Olmstead, who suggested two night tables for his bedroom for balance was well as pairs of tchotchkes, such as two red tassels placed together. By the way, she reports that the young man has sparked a new relationship that has lasted about four months.
And then there is the dreaded clutter — a dirty word in the world of feng shui.
“Clutter is postponed decisions and blocked energy,” explained Olmstead, who then repeats her mantra: “If you don’t use it, get rid of it. If you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it.”
Onto another important subject: the toilet seat. “Keep your lids down,” instructed Olmstead. “Water is abundance and you don’t want your abundance going down the drain.”
But getting back to subject of clutter, Gordon Sproul, the Southwest regional director of the International Feng Shui Guild, lives on six acres in the mountains of Sandia Park, N.M. He too speaks out against clutter.
“Clutter is about the biggest chi blocker there is,” he said. “It manifests directly in your life.”
Sproul’s explanation of feng shui: “It’s about subconscious things that we do that create obstacles. Houses are mirrors. They are reflections. Our subconscious knows feng shui better than any master living. We do things to sabotage through clutter and through placement of symbols.”
Like many feng shui consultants, he knows there are skeptics out there.
“I’m very pragmatic about this,” he said. “It’s personal. It’s all about choice. If someone says you’ve got to do something you sort of take it with a grain of salt. You’ve got to feel like they’re not just pulling stuff out of a hat.”
Riva Wine, a Washington-based feng shui consultant, mixes her talent for interior design with her intuition and knack for astrology. Raised in South Africa amid a small Chinese community, feng shui is something Wine believes was passed down to her as a rite of passage.
In the late 1970s, she came to the United States and eventually moved to Washington; her first job was for lawyers in the Watergate. She explains she took into consideration what she calls their energy. And after spending time with her, they asked if she was a missionary. “Nobody feels comfortable in an uneasy environment,” declared Wine. “So the shapes of things are important. Companies are personal.”
With people’s homes Wine works in much the same spirit. “First thing I like to do is find out their birthday, the season they were born,” she said. “I think that I’m helping people put some joy and excitement into their lives. People want change. And I can help them effect that change.”
She explained, “I don’t believe just by placing something differently in a room that it will change their life. You create a sacred place, a place of beauty, a place of peace.”
Wine’s work often entails healing ceremonies. One client that took a toll on Wine was a woman in her late 50s who insisted on having a disturbing painting entitled “The Scream” in her foyer. “That’s an example of someone destroying themselves,” said Wine, who explained that ultimately the woman’s lungs collapsed (lungs are about courage, explained Wine) and died. “I begged her to take it away. I tried to do healing with her.”
Linda Block, a full-time feng shui practitioner in Denver, describes feng shui as a “very deep study that goes into the energy, the earth and balancing our environment.” She speaks of the practice as “surrounding ourselves with things we love.”
Like the others she, too, takes a stab at clutter: “The more things there are, the less room there is for us.”
The feng shui consultants in this article may be reached at the following phone numbers or websites. Carol Olmstead: 301-530-2112; Riva Wine: 202-484-8687; Gordon Sproul: harmonybydesign.com; Linda Block: www.sacredspaces.net.
copyright The Hill